A Grandmother Shares Thoughts From Her New Book

The book Things to do with Grandchildren by Becky Sarah provides wonderful ideas that grandmothers can use with their grandkids.Note: This is a guest post adapted from the book Grandmothering: Real Life in Real Families, by Becky Sarah.

The book offers an in-depth look at the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of grandmothers today, based on more than 80 interviews. It covers giving advice and help to the grandchildren’s parents, changes in parenting over the generations, taking care of grandchildren, getting along with the other grandparents, money and gifts, travel with children, passing on culture and family history, how and when to say no, and more.

It’s about all kinds of families, including adoptive families, step-families, and multiracial families. To read an excerpt, see the book’s website grandmothering.net.  Thanks, Becky, for sharing!

Things to Do With Grandchildren
by Becky Sarah

When I interviewed grandmothers for my book, Grandmothering: Real Life in Real Families, I heard many wonderful ideas of things to do with grandchildren. One thing I learned in writing this book is that grandmothers are very creative, in many different ways.

Children are very curious about how things work, and there are lots of fun experiments you can do.

Kitchen table science.

  • Mix vinegar and baking soda and see the bubbles of gas. If you mix them in a narrow tall container, the mixture will foam out the top in an excitingly messy way.
  • Sprout seeds and look at them closely every day to see what happens.
  • Put the bottom end of a bunch of celery or the unused top of a carrot,  in a shallow dish of water, and leaves will sprout.
  • Get a magnifying glass and look at all kinds of things … hair, a leaf, the couch, a bug outside, fingers and toes.
  • Put oil and water in a jar and try to mix them. Adding food coloring to the water makes it even more dramatic.
  • Make Oobleck, by mixing about 2 cups cornstarch with 1 cup water. Oobleck is different than other mixtures, it seems like a liquid at times, then, depending on how it’s handled, it seems like a solid. It’s amazingly easy to clean up, too, but don’t put Oobleck down a drain, because of the way it can turn into a solid.
  • Children of different ages can enjoy these projects in different ways.

Taking things apart, and putting things together.
For a toddler, putting new batteries in a flashlight can be a fascinating activity. Let her try the switch…it doesn’t go on!  Help her do each step, from opening the flashlight, replacing the batteries and closing it, and then try the switch again. Light!  Toddlers like to go in a dim but not scarily dark room and shine a flashlight around, too.

With a child five years or older, try taking apart a broken phone or appliance to see what’s inside.  If you can explain how it worked, all the better.  Even if you don’t know, it’s interesting to see what’s in there.

Some grandchildren would just love to help you with anything you’ve bought that requires assembly, from a picnic table to a tricycle.  This will probably go better with one child at a time, rather than a crew. A six-year-old can use a screwdriver, and a seven-year-old can read directions. A school-aged child may be able to do most of the work, if you are patient, go slowly, and let them take the lead with some coaching. Try putting up a pergola, or a shelf, or a coat hook together. Would they like to make play dough from scratch, as well as play with it once it’s done?

Older children might enjoy helping you set up your new computer or music system.